Friday, September 16, 2005


Today I was listening to a news program in the car. Obviously the destruction along the Gulf coast was the main story. When it was done, I put my iPod on shuffle. The next 4 songs, I'm not kidding, were:

"Storm Warning" by Sea Level
"Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder
"Help Me" by Joni Mitchell
"Dead Spot" by Naked City


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Some observations on women in film

OK, this one is really not about music at all.

On a lark, we got a 4 DVD set of old Universal Studios cartoons. These are old shorts featuring the likes of Mighty Mouse, Popeye, Superman, and Casper. Well, my daughter was really taken with the Casper shorts so we got the live action film for her to watch as well. But did you know that there is also a direct-to-video sequel called Casper and Wendy, starring a pre-teen Hillary Duff as Wendy the witch? Well, just as Casper has 3 mean ghost uncles, Wendy has 3 mean witch aunts, played by Cathy Moriarty, Shelly Duvall, and Terri Garr.

Cathy Moriarty starred with Robert DeNiro in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull. Shelly Duval starred with Jack Nicholson in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Terri Garr starred with Gene Hackman in Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation. These are three of my all-time favorite films. Now, think for a moment what a shock it would be to discover a direct-to-video release starring DeNiro, Nicholson, and Hackman as supporting players in a movie whose two stars are a Mousekateer and a bit of CGI.

Then there is this article in which Pierce Brosnan expresses his opinion that the problem with Bond films is that they have to tame down the sex scenes. He also seems to prefer Halle Berry as the best Bond girl because she is "luscious" and "in touch with her sexuality." OK, maybe I agree with that part :)

You know what? Draw your own conclusions here, but while you're thinking about it - think back to the hottest actresses of the 60s and 70s and ask yourself where they are now? Especially when compared to their male colleagues. Here are some names to get you started: Faye Dunaway, Estelle Parsons, Katharine Ross, Ali MacGraw, Sally Kellerman, Carol Kane...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Naked City and Firesign Theatre

For many of you this might be a jump, but these days I have noticed a lot of similarity between Naked City and the Firesign Theatre. For those of you familiar enough with both these groups to take exception with my comparison, here's my thinking.

Take, for example, Torture Garden by Naked City. I'd always had a hot / cold relationship with the music of John Zorn. My opinion him increased greatly when Brooks introduced me to the music of Naked City. Aside from the top-notch musicianship in the band, Naked City hold a particular appeal for me, in that, every once in a while, I get to play their music for someone whose entire familiarity with Bill Frisell is his laid-back country-jazz works of the last 15 years or so. However, there is one major problem to listening to an album like Torture Garden.

For those of you that don't know, Torture Garden consists of 42 songs, and most of them are less than a minute long. Most of them are fast, loud, and change quickly- sometimes going through 4 or 5 different style changes in the course of a minute. If you don't have the mental wherewithal to pay close attention for 45 minutes at a time then a lot of it is going to fly right past you unnoticed.

And that brings me to the comparison with Firesign Theatre. For those of you into podcasting, I highly recommend subscribing to the Firesign Theatre Podcast. There are over 100 small soundfiles to download, and again most of them are less than a minute long and require that you pay attention to get everything that goes on. ("as Nick Danger coldly, ruthlessly, " "I wonder where Ruth is?" ...)

Since I've gotten my iPod, though, I find myself enjoying both of these groups much more. The main reason is the shuffle function. If you have just listened to something way too serious, like something from Joni Mitchell's "Blue" for example, and then a 30 second Naked City tune comes on, or a commercial for Jack Poet Volkswagen, the jolt of it all grabs your attention long enough to appreciate what's going on. Highly recommended.

Oh and, by the way, Fozzy and Stuck Mojo just got a whole lot better.